Reverence: Success and Value
Success and failure are not so much matters of what we learn or earn or own. Success is measured and determined by what we reverence. As worth is assigned to things in a society, the individuals in it will carve out their legacy of success or failure.
If virtue is reverenced, virtue increases. If virtueless success or characterless talent is admired above all, character breaks down. A dangerous step towards collapse is taken when obvious irreverence is touted as a virtue.
Modern American humor is frighteningly irreverent. In the light of the whole counsel of God, we must recapture the serious reality that there are some things that are not to be made fun of. What is sacred to God must not be funny to us. Americans tend to say, “This movie was profane, wicked, horrible, murderous, and pornographic, but it was so funny,” as though that excuses everything.
There are some things that are sacred, some things about which we simply should not make jokes. To jest of those things that are high and holy is to intrude dangerously on the things of God.
What is revered and how such reverence is demonstrated is important to a society’s character. In other words, appropriate objects of reverence must be chosen and given their proper values. Then appropriate means of demonstrating that reverence must be found.
Our society has cultivated a deliberate boredom, a cynical resistance to being amazed, to wonder at anything. Many Americans spend their lives bored with everything and are themselves, therefore, monumentally boring. There are certain things that simply demand a response. It is arrogant and self-centered to stand for the first time at the foot of Mount Fuji and say, “Ho hum, it’s about what I thought.” How much more interesting life is with a person who is unafraid to say, “I never dreamed it would be so beautiful!” There is something arrogant about a person who refuses to be impressed with anything. There are certain things in the presence of which I simply ought to be astonished.
Reverencing things outside myself takes my eyes of my own importance. When I develop the virtue of reverence, I cut away at my natural tendency to make myself the center of all things. The perspective that reverence returns to my life is not only spiritually important; it is also crucial to emotional well-being.
A contributing factor to the increasing madness of American culture is the decline of reverence. The loss of character in America, particularly the loss of reverence, is a subtle madness. Man, at the center of his own life, with all his problems and fears, unable to get his eyes off himself, is destined for emotional and spiritual collapse. Alone, man cannot stand the weight of himself.
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